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  • Writer's pictureMichael McClellon

Learning Fuels Accomplishment

Recently, I stumbled upon a video almost precisely as long as the song “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen entitled “Sperm Whales Clicking You Inside Out”. It depicted a presentation given by James Nestor, a notable journalist from San Diego. Having been bored to the point of mental starvation, I was instantly inclined to press on it, regardless of the fact that the video was literally “clickbait”. It began with Nestor describing the unimaginable intricacies of communication between sperm whales. He cited that they can produce sounds of around 236 decibels, enthroning themselves as the loudest animal on the planet. To put this into perspective, a rocket launch produces around 180 decibels, which is well below the whales’ loudest clicks. Nestor then explained that these seismic sounds can be used to communicate with other whales hundreds, and even thousands of miles away. This essentially means that they can engage in conversation with other whales across oceans without even paying for service! These sounds are so powerful, in fact, that they can even rupture our eardrums and cause the human body to vibrate when close to a clicking sperm whale! Granted this is definitely a true wonderment in itself, entirely unexpected from these graceful, gray giants, I feel like we need to dive deeper to sea why these whales blow away the competition when it comes to conversationalism. Towards the end of this particular segment in the presentation, Nestor explained that sperm whales have incredibly advanced brains that are geared towards intricate forms of emotional and linguistic intelligence, much like us humans. These brains allow them to use a unique language system composed of numerous clicks that scientists are still studying today. Despite our increasing knowledge, however, the enigma code of the deep is still lost at sea. Who knows, perhaps these whales may be talking about the best krill spots, or they may be engaging in sophisticated debates over Orwhaleian society. Now before I indulge you with more puns, I’d like to talk about the real porpoise of this infinitely informative article. Let’s start with some questions. Have you sighed rather aggravatingly at the fact that I just cut off this stream of knowledge entering your mind? Have you read, but not truly absorbed the information as a new inquiry, and continued to read on just to get it over with? Or has your computer gone out the window to avoid subjection to such cruel, pointless punishment? (okay I’ll stop) Not only may your answers reveal your questionable sense of humor, but also may show if you are naturally curious or indifferent. Dismissing, or naturally intrigued. Fleeting, or patient, and ignorant or wise. Now, I’m not going to generalize everyone’s individual intellect, let alone their own perceptions of their intellect, but the answers to these questions can be very telling of how willing you are to learn something new. Our minds are naturally curious, and learning something new is always beneficial for mental growth. Becoming more open to new things through learning can even be one of the saving graces that you have been hoping for in life. As much as you may be questioning how sperm whales are the answer to all your problems, this is not what I’m trying to say. However, they may develop your interest into something like marine biology, ocean chemistry, or even water itself. Learning something new can be the answer to a looming question you might have been wondering about, or it could be the savior of success that you’ve been yearning to experience. Let’s consider two scenarios. In this one, imagine casually perusing through your recommended videos on youtube, and coming across a video about the properties of nitrogen. You have nothing really better to do, and the thumbnail looks cool, so you click on it. It begins by showing you an enthusiastic chemist who is more than happy to show you how liquid nitrogen can easily freeze almost anything, including a banana, as well as many other wonderful properties. Your friend then calls you right at the end of the video, desperate for answers to their chemistry packet that’s due tomorrow. You calmly acknowledge the astronomical coincidence, and gladly help them out with what you have learned, feeling accomplished and more interested in something you did not know before. Now, imagine that you’ve always had an interest in geography, but you’ve never had the opportunity to make your mark on the world with this interest. You spend hours studying capitals, physical geography, and geopolitics, but it begins to feel futile. You feel like this interest will eventually fade and that this effort you’ve put into it was useless. Then, suddenly, you find out about your school’s annual geography bee that begins next week. You then feel extremely accomplished, and end uprising through the competition, propelling yourself with what you’ve learned all the way up to first place. This juggernaut of knowledge was finally unleashed towards a potential you never saw coming. Although these situations may seem unlikely, I must say that they both happened to me, and I’m still grateful for what I learned in the past and how it has helped me in the future. Even if learning something new doesn’t yield promising results, you can still experience the joy of feeding your curiosity and being productive, especially in times like these. Doing this on your own time is also much more peaceful and less forceful than in a school environment. So the next time you find a video about sperm whales, Egyptian history, or bicycle mechanics, I promise you that introducing yourself to new topics and cultivating your interests with knowledge is the best way to enjoy more of what you love. In conclusion, learning is like the feeling you get when you plug your phone in right before it shuts off from a low battery. Thank you for coming to my Ted Talk.

To read more articles from Michael McClellon click here.

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